So I Tried... Forager
In each edition of So I Tried… I will try a game that I have never played before. Will I find something new to love? Will I find something new to despise? I'll take a full half hour, no matter how bad it gets or how badly I do, to see if this is the game for me. This time, I decided to go and play Forager, an indie game developed by Argentine studio HopFrog and published by Humble Games. Initially released back in 2019 on PC via Steam before being ported over to Nintendo Switch (the system I bought the game on), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, and Android. It's an open-world adventure game where you’re tasked with surviving and thriving on a mysterious island that you can expand with money. So let’s see what Forager has got in store.
What I thought it was
I have to admit, not a lot. I’ve been burned by a similar game to this in the form of Nira. I reviewed it a couple of years ago and I just got bored with it very quickly. Its systems and controls were unintuitive and baffling, with an art style that made it very easy to lose your character and makes building anything decent-looking a nightmare. Seriously, I don’t recommend it. There are better alternatives… like Forager, which preceded Nira’s Early Access release in 2020 by coming out on the 18th of April 2019.
Huh. And I’ve noticed both protagonists in the key art of both games are white dudes with a backpack and a pickaxe.
That’s probably something I’m not gonna look further into.
What it actually was
Oh God, it’s been five hours since I started and I haven’t stopped until now. I got hooked and went way over the half-hour playtime limit this series usually allows. I should really set a timer next time. If you’ve noticed, the images in this article show a more advanced character with more equipment, supplies, and buildings than what should be possible in 30 minutes. That’s because I completely forgot to take screenshots and had to go back and get some. Forager is seriously addicting… after the first 30 minutes.
The beginning is pretty slow going and a little aggravating. You needed to mine enough resources to craft forges and furnaces, and at first, resources spawn quite slowly. You’ll be hurting for basic items like food, wood, and coal and all you can do is wait. Plus, without unlocking Storage from levelling up, inventory space is a serious bother. I actually wasn’t feeling it for a good while, but as you level up and craft better stuff, it really ramps up into something more exciting. Suddenly, resources actually become way too abundant and you need to set down floors and bridges to get anywhere, and while I haven’t encountered anything that would require me to dodge roll yet, those upgrades to combat ability and stats aren’t there for nothing. You’ll discover your goals rather than be given them and if you’re still stuck on that, well, the achievements are there to push you in the right direction.
Will I keep playing?
Yes. I will keep playing. I am currently playing this right now as I am writing this down. Forager can be surprisingly addictive and has tons of content to unlock and discover. While the first 30 minutes felt so much like a slog, sticking with it opened my eyes to why so many people love it and how much passion the developer has. Seriously, one of the first bonus unlocks is a comic about how Forager came to be. It’s honestly a sweet story, definitely a recommended read.
It can be pretty grindy, but that’s what makes the payoff all the sweeter. The only real issue is that playing the game on the Nintendo Switch, I found precise placements to be kinda fiddly and requires more effort than it normally should. I cannot recommend this game enough if you want something simple yet awesome.
Addendum: I just found out about how horrible the main dev is after I wrote this article (a transphobe who stole stuff from his team). The game’s fun, but um, please separate art from the artist. That shouldn’t ruin a game for you if you do enjoy it, but I won’t mind if you don’t wanna support such a person.